Vernon Township has finished clearing debris on part of an 11.3-acre township property, Mayor Howard Burrell reported at the Feb. 8 council meeting.
Burrell said the area was not easily accessible, so the township hired a company – one of two bidders on the project – for $6,800. He said the work was completed on Jan. 29.
Burrell said the business administrator, Charles Voelker, worked with the Department of Public Works to find New Jersey Clean Communities grant funds to pay for the cleanup.
No local taxpayer funds were used to clean up the area, he said.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was informed of the debris by Joseph Wallace, owner of the 75-foot waste pile on Silver Spruce Drive elsewhere in the township. Burrell said the area was filled with trees, weeds, vines, and other heavy vegetation, which made the area difficult to see or get to.
DEP Environmental Specialist David Ongaro showed township officials what appeared to be decades-old debris consisting mostly of used tires; an empty, old, rusty oil tank; some concrete; some plastic pipes; some decaying carpet; and some pressure treated lumber.
Ongaro said he assumed the debris was on municipal property, and was required by DEP regulations to fine the assumed property owner for $4,500.
According to Burrell, Ongaro told township officials that the fine could be reduced or even eliminated based on the “speed and adequacy” of the cleanup.
Burrell said he has informed the DEP of the township’s “successful cleanup.”
“It is my belief and my expectation that the speed and the thoroughness of our cleanup effort will result in a reduction, if not a full elimination, of the $4,500 civil administrative penalty,” Burrell said.
“Currently the site in question is still an open case and with a Notice of Administrative Order and Civil Administrative Penalty assessment,” Ongaro said last month.
He declined to comment further.
“It is my belief and my expectation that the speed and the thoroughness of our cleanup effort will result in a reduction, if not a full elimination, of the $4,500 civil administrative penalty.” Mayor Howard Burrell